2016 Good Shepherd Sunday
This Sunday, April 17, is the fourth Sunday in the Easter season. We will join Lutheran congregations all over Illinois in observing Good Shepherd Sunday in recognition of our ministry together through Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI).
The image of the Good Shepherd recalls God’s sacrificial love for all people and God’s commitment to care for each lamb as well as the whole flock. God’s love is shown to be both strong and gentle. This understanding of God as caregiver and guide prompted the ELCA synods in Illinois to designate this as a special time to highlight and celebrate the social services through LSSI. (LINK HERE)
For 149 years, LSSI and is predecessors have developed creative response to human needs that were beyond the ability of any single congregation to address. Today, LSSI has a variety of programs in communities across the state, including foster care, intact family services, mental health counseling, addiction recovery programs, housing and homecare for seniors, and programs to keep incarcerated citizens connected with their families.
You may have heard new reports earlier this year about the effect of the state budget impasse on LSSI’s ministries. The short version of the story is that LSSI closed several of its programs, many of them dealing with senior services and mental health counseling, and laid off 758 staff members. Right now the state of Illinois owes LSSI millions of dollars for services already provided-this money that cannot be collected until there is a budget agreement. While those decisions were very painful, LSSI is still very much alive and its work continues across the state.
We hold everyone who has been affected by the budget cuts in our prayers, those who lost jobs and those who have lost services. We also pray that the Spirit moves us to support, invest, and engage in the services of LSSI.